"The bond between author and reader has always fascinated me. Without the reader's imagination, an author's words are dead in the dark. Only when you open their book do you make them come alive. It's like a spell. And you spread that magic because you talk about the book, post about it, or give it away to someone." - Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Hex & Echo.
Our next author featured in our series is Alex White. I thought I'd leave it to a writer to explain why I am doing this series of author interviews and I couldn't have said it better than Thomas Olde Heuvelt above.
You can order August Kitko and the Mechas from Space on our website HERE (support indies). I hope you all enjoy this interview as much as I did. I am always pleasantly surprised by the Lightning Round. Our Virtual Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book Club will be discussing August Kitko and the Mechas from Space Thursday February 9th at 7pm PST on Zoom. Details HERE.
STEPHANIE ROSE: Can you take us through your writing process for August Kitko and the Mechas from Space?
ALEX WHITE: I started out with the characters and a couple of story design precepts. I knew I wanted to write a queer power couple who were sweet to one another. Having their power come from their kindness was really important to me, so that dictated much of their characterization. I didn't want to write another story about human mecha pilots, so I thought it'd be funny to make the humans their pets. I kept imagining these world-destroying creatures with vast powers and trying to fit the main characters into that story. It took a lot of planning, and I wrote a comprehensive synopsis--which I abandoned. In general, I plan my books and then get... close... to what I'd originally imagined. I'm not afraid to leave a good plan for a better one. After all, it takes 2-4 weeks to plan a novel and 6 months to write one; surely in that time, I can come up with some better ideas.
STEPHANIE: What character do you most identify with and why?
ALEX: That's an interesting question, because the two main characters are two sides of myself. A lot of authors talk about self-insert characters in a disparaging fashion, but I found the experience tremendously empowering. For Gus, I was trying to process a lot of my own depression, and I wanted a character who felt like my voice in the world. In Ardent's case, they're not who I am, but sort of who I wish I could've been. Ardent is free in so many ways that I am not, and it's really beautiful to write about.
STEPHANIE: Do you listen to any music when you write? If so, what kind?
ALEX: I rather like this Hunter S. Thompson quote: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming 'Wow! What a Ride!'"
STEPHANIE: Can you tell us about any other projects you're working on?
ALEX: I'm writing the sequel to AUGUST KITKO & THE MECHAS FROM SPACE! It's an extra-tricky one because it turns a ton of the first book on its head. I'm also working on a super secret thing in LA, but that's literally all I can say!
STEPHANIE: I've seen on your social media that you have a passion for music and metal work. How do you think that influences your writing?
ALEX: I think that there are commonalities in all creative pursuits, if you look at what lies at the core: experience. Different disciplines generate experiences in different ways--a blacksmith may provide ornamentation or remove it to create an emotional response. A composer is often an expert on pacing. I think that, by meditating on what makes different artisans successful, we can enhance our understanding of our own pursuits. I consider myself, primarily, to be a writer. I believe that, by studying music and metal work, I can come to think about writing differently. I also draw, do calligraphy, take photos and cook, and each one has changed my perspective on the world just a little. It's good to have hobbies I have no intention of monetizing, and recognize that those improve my more valuable skills.
STEPHANIE: Any recent books, films, shows, or podcasts you want to recommend to our readers?
Podcasts: Behind the Bastards, Cerebro
Shows: What We Do in the Shadows, Star Trek: Lower Decks
Books: The Book Eaters, Ten Low, A Modern Guide to Knifemaking
Films: I'm sorry to say that nothing is blowing my mind at the moment.
Lightning Round | Altered and Borrowed from James Lipton
What is your favorite word? Sesquipedalian
What is your least favorite word? Tummy
What is your favorite sci-fi movie? Alien
What is your favorite sci-fi book? Kings of the Wyld
What sound or noise do you love? Trains
What sound or noise do you hate? Loud restaurants
What is your favorite curse word? Fuck
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Writer (It ain't my day job.)
What profession would you not like to do? Most of them.
If you knew you were going to die and only had a chance to read one more book what would it be? Possibly The Last Lecture? I don't know, but it seems relevant...
You plan a movie night and can watch one movie with any one writer. What writer and what movie do you choose? Oscar Wilde, Mean Girls.
What author dead or alive would you want to spend the day with and in what fictional sci-fi universe? I would visit Middle Earth with Tolkien. I'm not a fan, but I think it'd be fun to watch him losing his shit from being in his own fanclub.
About Alex White
ALEX WHITE was born in Mississippi and has lived most of their life in the American South. Alex is the author of the Starmetal Symphony Trilogy and The Salvagers Trilogy; as well as official novels for Alien (THE COLD FORGE, INTO CHARYBDIS) and Star Trek (DS9 REVENANT). They enjoy music composition, calligraphy and challenging, subversive fiction.